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Sensory and motor areas in the cortex

Different areas and sections in the cortex are associated with specific functions. Right on top and across the middle, there are two adjacent areas that have complementary functions: the motor cortex and the sensory cortex.

They rest either side of the central sulcus which is the transversal dividing line. Neurones in the motor cortex extend axons down the length of the spine and establish connections via the spine to muscles to create voluntary muscle contraction and movement. The motor cortex has further sub-areas such as the premotor cortex that deals with the activity preceding movement e.g. movement planning, and the primary motor cortex that deals with the signalling to muscles itself.

The association of specific areas to body parts exists, but is not strict and may be overlapping in certain regions. It follows the feet (top of the cortex) through to other body parts and ending with the tongue at the bottom of the cortex. There is a direct correlation between the regions for each body part and the amount of connections it has. Therefore, parts with many connections such as the hands and face occupy a bigger region. These body parts must execute motor function with greater precision than the others.

The sensory cortex lies next to the motor cortex. More precisely, this is the primary somatosensory cortex and it follows a similar body part pattern as the motor cortex, both in sequence and size. It works together with the other areas f the cortex that deal with specialised sensory functions such as hearing and sight, respectively found to the side of the cortex and at the back.





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